Jun 30, 2018
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What went flawed for Africa on the World Cup?

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What went flawed for Africa on the World Cup?

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Followers in Nigeria, Morocco and Senegal specific their sorrow after their groups have been knocked out the match

Senegal’s World Cup exit on Thursday means Africa has suffered its worst World Cup show for 36 years, with no aspect from the continent within the knockout stage for the primary time since 1982.

Going into the match, there have been excessive hopes Africa might construct on its show in Brazil in 2014 when two groups – Nigeria and Algeria – reached the second spherical for the primary time.

As an alternative, a continent shall be questioning the place it went flawed as its 15 video games resulted in 10 defeats, two attracts and simply three wins.

So what’s responsible: unhealthy luck, VAR, or an absence of aptitude?

Wounded Egyptian king

This was speculated to be the match by which Egypt modified their lamentable World Cup document, partly due to what was supposedly a weak group and partly as a result of they boast one of many world’s greatest gamers.

Nevertheless you have a look at it, Mohamed Salah dominated Egypt’s marketing campaign – in the end scoring seven, and helping two, of the 10 targets they scored each in qualifying and in Russia.

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Mo Salah didn’t gentle up the match as many had hoped he would

It was painfully apparent to the followers how a lot he can be missed when a shoulder harm sustained within the Champions League closing dominated him out of the primary recreation towards Uruguay.

In his absence, ahead Marwan Mohsen – one aim in 23 internationals – appeared an insufficient alternative.

Even when Salah had been absolutely match it’s questionable how far the Pharaohs – at their first World Cup in 28 years – would have gone due to pricey defensive errors.

This isn’t what you’d count on of a workforce coached by the defensive pragmatist Hector Cuper, however too typically they erred – with Ali Gabr and Ahmed Hegazi’s central partnership typically suspect.

Nonetheless, their goalkeepers impressed – Mohamed El Shenawy performing fantastically towards Uruguay whereas African legend Essam El Hadary, 45, celebrated World Cup historical past in high-quality fashion towards Saudi Arabia by not solely turning into the match’s oldest participant but additionally making a surprising penalty save.

However the workforce that has lengthy dominated African soccer (with seven continental crowns) in the end dissatisfied, by no means extra so than of their closing last-gasp defeat by Saudi Arabia.

That was the primary time that they had been in entrance in a World Cup match, however after 84 years of attempting they’re nonetheless trying to find their first win.

Atlas Lions fail to roar

Morocco’s World Cup marketing campaign was undone within the worst attainable vogue – conceding a calamitous personal aim in stoppage time of their opening recreation to reward Iran a 1-Zero win.

Coach Herve Renard had known as this match his workforce’s “World Cup closing”, hardly shocking provided that Portugal and Spain lay subsequent, and his pained face after the match encapsulated his immense remorse.

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Morocco followers have been impressed by their workforce’s efficiency on the match

From then on although, Morocco massively impressed.

They fell behind early to European champions Portugal of their subsequent recreation however after that, it was largely one-way site visitors, with the North Africans impressing with their passing, fluidity and fixed attacking drive.

Like almost all African groups in Russia, they have been undone by the shortage of a dependable goalscorer and, when possibilities did come Morocco’s manner, they both fell to the flawed folks (defender Mehdi Benatia twice responsible) or they have been thwarted by prime goalkeeping (Rui Patricio denying Younes Belhanda).

Of their closing recreation, the Atlas Lions continued to impress and have been seconds away from inflicting Spain’s first defeat in 23 video games just for the 2010 world champions to attract 2-2 after yet one more stoppage-time aim towards an African workforce.

Provided that Spain boasted seven gamers from Actual Madrid and Barcelona, with the remainder from European heavyweights Manchester Metropolis, Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid, this was a match that confirmed Morocco in the absolute best gentle.

“They’re a superb workforce who had misplaced two matches 1-Zero whereas deserving way more,” mentioned Spain coach Fernando Hierro afterwards.

It’s onerous to disagree.

Nigeria – a workforce for the longer term

Nigeria’s last-gasp loss to Argentina might have attracted a lot criticism again residence, with a lot questioning why the defence wasn’t bolstered within the closing phases, however the Tremendous Eagles’ Russian marketing campaign was in the end filled with positives.

Regardless of being positioned within the conventional “Group of Loss of life”, the youngest squad within the match – that includes 18 gamers who had by no means performed at a World Cup earlier than – have been simply 4 minutes away from qualifying for the knockout rounds.

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AFP

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Victor Moses’s penalty had given Nigeria hope towards Argentina earlier than they conceded a late aim

This was not a Nigeria workforce blessed with the abilities or bodily energy of the magnificent aspect within the 1990s, but it surely made up for that with a solidity and workforce spirit not typically seen in Tremendous Eagles squads.

“I feel the longer term is for Nigeria as a result of there’s a huge solidarity – you noticed within the tough moments how nice the spirit within the workforce is,” coach Gernot Rohr instructed BBC Sport.

The German lamented the gradual begins to each recreation for his aspect in Russia, with Nigeria failing to bother their opponents in each first half.

It’s value noting that not like earlier campaigns, this one went easily for Nigeria with next-to-no reviews of administrative chaos and with bonuses sorted out months upfront.

That bodes effectively for the longer term, as does the huge expertise the workforce can have gained from their Russia marketing campaign.

Poor Tunisia

Tunisia have been merely not adequate to progress from a tough group that includes each Belgium and England, and that’s an admission made by the coach himself.

“We’re removed from the required degree,” former worldwide Nabil Maaloul mentioned, with captain Wahbi Khazri additionally venturing that his aspect discovered the extent towards each top-drawer European opponents to be “too excessive, too elevated”.

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Tunisia gained their first World Cup match towards Panama however they have been poor within the different group matches

The Carthage Eagles solely misplaced their opening recreation to England in stoppage time, as an African workforce as soon as once more suffered by the hands of each set-pieces and late targets, however additionally they created treasured little.

There will be little question {that a} workforce shorn of prime abilities badly missed their star man – injured playmaker Youssef Msakni – however his affect might effectively have been restricted as Belgium’s 5-2 destruction of the Carthage Eagles proved.

Nonetheless, Tunisia depart the competitors as Africa’s prime scorers – with 5 targets from three video games – and a way of satisfaction.

Regardless of trailing towards Panama, the North Africans fought again to 2-1 and so safe their first win within the competitors since 1978 – a yr once they turned the primary African workforce to win a World Cup recreation.

Africa’s final stand falters

After 4 straight defeats for Africa in the beginning of the competitors, Senegal turned the continent’s nice hopes after successful their first recreation – and the continent’s – towards a poor Poland.

The two-2 draw with Japan of their subsequent recreation might have entertained the followers however having twice let go of the lead, it opened the door for a possible slip-up towards Colombia – and the way damaging that proved.

Senegal misplaced out after receiving extra yellow playing cards than the Japanese – six to 4 – with two of the West Africans’ yellows coming within the closing seconds of their conflict with the Asian aspect.

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Many felt Senegal have been Africa’s greatest workforce within the match and have been dissatisfied once they have been knocked out

Whereas many Senegalese have lamented the brand new Fifa ruling which eradicated them from the competitors on their inferior disciplinary document, coach Aliou Cisse refused to take action – saying merely his aspect “did not deserve” to make the second spherical.

As with Egypt and Salah, loads of hope was positioned on Sadio Mane however he struggled to make an affect within the video games – seldom getting in behind opposing defences and sometimes straitjacketed by tactical calls for that appeared to restrict his skill to roam free, definitely within the first two video games.

Senegal have been one other African workforce which lacked midfield creativity however they impressed on the different finish, the place Kalidou Koulibaly and Salif Sane shaped a high-quality and imposing central partnership.

The Senegalese defeat by Colombia was their first in a World Cup group recreation however they exit the competitors with Africa’s strongest document on the finals – with three wins and simply two defeats from their eight video games to this point.

Did Africa lose to VAR?

Lots is being written and mentioned concerning the affect of the newly launched video assistant referee (VAR) within the match and there’s no shock that opinion is split.

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The video assistant referee (VAR) was used to overview among the contentious selections

Nigerians have argued that VAR selections went towards them, saying Argentina’s Marcos Rojo ought to have been penalised when heading the ball onto his personal hand in St Petersburg – particularly since Iran had been awarded a penalty in very comparable circumstances on Monday.

Nevertheless, whereas that latter determination appeared flawed, the referee within the Nigeria-Argentina match acquired his determination proper.

Elsewhere, Morocco’s Nordin Amrabat left no-one in any doubt as to his views on VAR following Spain’s late equaliser of their 2-2 draw however as soon as once more it was the appropriate determination, as was the penalty awarded towards Egypt for Saudi Arabia.

In each Egypt’s – and Africa’s – favour was the choice to award Mohamed Salah a penalty, which he transformed, towards host nation Russia.

And African followers shouldn’t be too despondent because the continent’s referees – who’ve carried out effectively in Russia to this point – are nonetheless right here, which means at the very least some Africans may make it to the World Cup’s latter phases.

BBC Sport – Football
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